The Fluid Society

Is digitalization our salvation?

Image created using ChatGPT and DALL-E, AI technologies by OpenAI.

Three Major Transformations

The world is currently in the midst of a number of significant transformations.

  1. Political Structures Breaking Down. Firstly, the Western hegemony, which has long stood as a guarantor of world peace and international law, is now faltering. Russia, China, sometimes in combination with other countries like Iran and North Korea, are openly challenging the classic Western model and advocating for a different world order. The so-called BRICS model, established by China, Russia, India, Brazil, and South Africa, is reforming and admitting new members. Its main aim is to create an alternative to the international discussion models and legal order established by the West. However, the participants seem to have significant differences among themselves, making it more likely that international political contradictions will increase rather than decrease.
  2. The Climate Crisis. In addition, the climate crisis is becoming increasingly apparent, accompanied by the deterioration of nature, loss of biodiversity, and pollution of the Earth. These problems are primarily caused by overpopulation and the excessive consumption patterns of the Western world. The economic growth model is in conflict with the finite nature and resources of the Earth. In order to maintain a livable world, also for our fellow Earth inhabitants, the preservation of a healthy natural environment must become the basis of all government policy and be prioritized over economic growth. The increase in the scale and frequency of disasters will force governments and businesses to drastically revise their way of operating. This theme also leads to growing national and international tensions
  3. Digitalization. Thirdly, digital developments are intersecting these first two transformations. People are more connected globally than ever before through social media and the internet. Like-minded individuals find each other more easily, and new technologies such as AI are shaking up the world and will profoundly impact almost all professions, leading to profound changes in companies and societies. The first two transformations, political changes and climate, are already having profound effects on society, but digital developments will, more than the first two, overhaul human life and the human condition. They are evolutionary developments for humanity, leading to different ways of thinking, working together, and living together worldwide. A more “fluid” society will emerge globally, differing significantly in technology, governance, cooperation, and human development from what is currently the norm.

From Physical to Thinking Being. What’s happening? Humans have been evolving for decades, but now this process is accelerated by digital advancements, from a physical being supported by brains (like all animals) to a thinking being supported by a physical organism. Originally, humans were group-oriented. But their evolutionary development is increasingly transforming them into independently thinking individuals. This change is crucial, as it alters the way humans develop and organize themselves. As group-oriented creatures, the focus was on defending and maintaining the group, akin to the behaviour of herd animals. As individuals, it’s about independent development and responsibility, in communication or networked with the environment and like-minded individuals.

The Failing Group-Animal Thinking. The successful model of group-oriented thinking, especially in recent decades, has led to the disastrous situation we now find ourselves in. As group-oriented beings, we primarily sought the growth and wealth of the group in competition or war with other groups, with little regard for the environment. The world’s population has exploded since World War II, combined with a massive increase in consumption. This has proven to be a disastrous combination. Humanity now stands on the brink of catastrophe because our way of thinking, living, and governing has taken no account of the natural environment, nor the biodiversity or species present there. The fact that humans are part of nature and completely dependent on it has been lost in our pursuit of wealth and consumption. A radical and swift change of course is necessary to reduce the world’s population, decrease consumption – especially in the West – and save nature from further degradation.

The Captive Humanity. The group-oriented thinking means that humanity still massively follows the ideas and desires of leaders instead of listening to scientists, our sages, in numerous fields. The current democratic model facilitates the group-animal mechanism: the majority is right, not the scientific insights of a minority. As a result, short-term gain prevails over long-term interest. But if humanity does not adequately solve the major long-term issues, catastrophes in the coming years are inevitable. The group-think that necessitates economic growth, promotes large international companies, and maintains competing nation-states with strong leaders has degraded the human individual to a consumer, wage slave, and taxpayer. The promise of liberal democracy to provide people with freedom and good prosperity is currently being crushed as established interests of countries, companies, and a wealthy elite keep humanity trapped in an inherently unsustainable economic market structure.

From Group Animal to Individual. If humanity is to break out of this current impasse and regain its freedom, then humans must take the evolutionary step from group-animal thinking and functioning to being individually thinking and responsible beings. The thinking being in a digitalized environment requires individual responsibility, awareness, and understanding (respect) for the living environment, communication in various networks with like-minded individuals, both physically and digitally, in a broad (global) environment. As individuals, humans can make different choices and break free from group pressures like advertising, promotional campaigns, misinformation, and dominant populists. Our classic thinking must be overhauled because of the many problems that way of thinking causes. Our thinking can be overhauled because new technologies enable us to organize differently, communicate differently, and live together differently.

Digital Rescue? Coincidence or not, at this crucial moment, advanced digitization may come to the rescue of the sensible part of humanity and thus humanity as a whole. Thanks to the internet and social media, scientists, our sages, and many other individuals are globally connected. They may not have a democratic majority, but within their global network and field, they only need to worry about who has the best arguments. They are willing to convince each other and collectively advance with the best arguments or research, thereby effecting local changes.

Global Network of Scientists. Thanks to this network, scientists and thinkers can better organize themselves and gain strength and power. Unlike in the classic world and national democracies, where their arguments falter on stupid majorities and established interests, this silent revolution thrives in the digital hinterland of the world. Thousands of video conferences take place, exchanging articles, research, and views on almost every topic. At the local level, this knowledge is sought and acted upon.

Hundreds of Millions of People in Contact. Thousands of volunteer organizations and NGOs in sustainability, population planning, conservation, and restoration of natural areas have emerged. In areas such as setting up small-scale organizations, SME businesses, financial planning, technical education, or healthcare, people find each other worldwide via digital networks with others. Experts provide commentary and information to national initiatives. Estimates indicate that hundreds of millions of people worldwide are in contact and helping each other in various fields.

Economic Impact Limited. Although the economic impact of these developments may still be limited and much smaller than that of classic companies, counterforces are beginning to emerge. Some large companies are wrongly clearing forest lands, destroying habitats, and overfishing. Local NGOs are opposing this, and volunteers are making grateful use of the knowledge and skills available from around the world via social media. Petitions or obtaining legal support, carrying out actions against companies and governments, finding necessary expertise for alternatives such as sustainable forestry or agriculture, or small-scale trade, are all made possible by digital connectivity.

Humanity Unlocked. As more people worldwide become digitally connected, they are unlocked to their fellow humans, and the path of individual development opens up for everyone. Being connected to the public internet should therefore be a fundamental right. The influence of religions, politics, culture, and group thinking will diminish as people have more opportunities to develop independently and build their own networks. Thus emerges the fluid world (the fluid society) where everyone can help, get to know, and appreciate each other. Borders, religions, and even language are becoming less of a barrier to finding and helping each other. AI will help make it easier for everyone to communicate with others, regardless of language or to initiate initiatives in various fields. Digital developments thus contribute to the development of what can be called a world consciousness. Thanks to the digital world, people discover that we live together on a finite world, which can only exist and survive peacefully if we act together.

Where Do the Three Major Transformations Lead? Looking back at the three transformations the world is currently undergoing, the following can be noted: the world is developing into a situation where the classic superpowers will no longer be able to dominate the world. This means that, perhaps by theme, global coalitions of cooperation will emerge. Increasingly, it will also become apparent that countries, even superpowers, that isolate themselves by withholding general information from their population, will fall behind in their development and then fear an uprising from their population. The grip of theocratic and authoritarian regimes will diminish. In this sense, the current wars, however terrible, are rearguard actions or convulsions of a disappearing world. But meanwhile, the power of democracies is also diminishing due to their failure to come up with solutions. Particularly due to transition two, the climate problems and related problems, all countries, including totalitarian superpowers, will be forced to cooperate in the coming decades to take measures for a smaller population, more sustainability, less consumption, and nature conservation. Only in unity can this succeed. Precisely here, and presumably will, the third transition, the digitization of society, be of decisive influence.

The Unfolding Fluid Society. The third transformation, digitization, will lead to new forms of governance for humanity. Not a central ruling clique, not a new form of democracy, but a new global structure where experts and voluntary collaborations on a global scale help people on location to improve their existence through education, knowledge of health, sustainability, nature conservation, economics, and languages that contribute to their well-being and happiness. The fluid society of the spirit, where people become digitally connected regardless of belief, race, culture, location, and even regardless of rich or poor. That fluid world is currently being built and unfolding in the background of the intense global events. Built by thousands of people who either build human networks alongside their formal job or altruistically, working without the sluggishness of bureaucracies, without political influence. Of course, national governments and structures will continue to exist. After all, people will physically live somewhere and need various facilities on location. But the importance and the power of the nation-state will diminish as the fluid society develops more strongly. The same applies to companies. Of course, global companies will remain necessary for various, sometimes complex, products. But many mega-companies will disappear because they no longer have added value in the society of the future, where every person can live and work as an individual or in groups, knowing that they can always turn to the global community of the fluid society.

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